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The Effect of Eating Disorder Memoirs in Individuals With Self-Identified Eating Pathologies

Shaw, Laura-Kate BA Psych Hons; Homewood, Judi PhD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: August 2015 - Volume 203 - Issue 8 - p 591–595
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000347
Original Articles

As part of a larger, mixed-methods study, we posted an invitation to participate in a study on the effects of reading eating disorder memoirs on the website of an organization that provides support for people with eating disorders. Twenty-four women completed the questionnaire. Qualitative analysis of their responses indicated a recovery continuum, whereby the direction of memoir influence seemed to depend on an individual's recovery stage and motivation to recover. Individuals who reported that they were exposed to memoirs before, or during, their illness reported experiencing negative consequences including making unfavorable social comparisons, along with emulation and triggering of disordered behaviors, whereas those who reported being exposed when in recovery reported more positive outcomes including hope, validation, and social support. Findings have implications for the use of personal accounts as a means of facilitating patient recovery in eating disorder treatment settings. Future research should test the influence of memoirs using a larger eating disorder sample, and across different recovery stages.

Department of Psychology, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.

Send reprint requests to Laura-Kate Shaw, BA Psych Hons, Department of Psychology, Macquarie University, NSW, 2109, Australia. E-mail:

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